On the last game of the regular season, about 4,000 fortunate fans got a chance to witness the Los Angeles Lakers unfurl the team’s 17th championship banner.
“It was awesome,” Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said. “Honestly, we didn’t have a full house because we’re not allowed to, but the fans that were here were super loud during that moment. I just look forward to the days we can have everybody back in Staples.”
Those fans also watched as the Lakers hung on to defeat the worst team in the NBA, the Houston Rockets, 124-122 on Wednesday at Staples Center.
LeBron James (right ankle soreness), Anthony Davis (left abductor tightness), Dennis Schröder (health and safety protocols) and Alex Caruso (right foot soreness) did not play, but the Lakers didn’t need them.
Instead, L.A.’s complementary players got a chance to step up and play more prominent roles.
Talen Horton-Tucker (20 points, 10 assists), Andre Drummond (23 points, 10 rebounds) and Kyle Kuzma (19 points, 10 rebounds) all finished with double-doubles. Montrezl Harrell added 16 points.
The Lakers had seven players finish in double figures. L.A. dominated inside, outscoring Houston 86-50 in the paint.
With the win -- the Lakers third in a row -- Los Angeles improved to 40-30 with two games on the road left this weekend against the Indiana Pacers and the New Orleans Pelicans.
However, the Lakers remain the No. 7 seed, a game behind No. 5 seed the Portland Trail Blazers (41-29) and No. 6 seed, the Dallas Mavericks (41-29), who both won on Wednesday.
The Lakers are hopeful to get Schröder back for Saturday’s game against the Pacers, along with Davis and James at some point before the playoff begin next week.
“We just know what time it is now,” Kuzma said. “It’s time for us to either get with it or get lost. It’s almost the playoffs. It’s time to tighten up the screws. It’s time to gel more.
“It’s time to play as a team and get back on track. … When LeBron gets back, everyone’s roles are going to be much smaller, and much more detailed. So, I think it’s very important for us to continue to do what we’re doing. For the other players on the team to continue to play the right way and paly with each other. And it’s going to bode well when we’re at full strength.”